This season’s relegation battle in the Premier League has been intruguing to say the least. Up until 4/5 games ago, Leicester City looked dead and buried with just 19 points – but 5 wins in their last 6 games has taken them to the point of safety – given the fact there are 3 teams around them that will barely pick up another point, yet alone one between them! This is how the table currently stands:
15th – Newcastle – 35 Points
16th – Leicester City – 34 Points
17th – Hull City – 34 Points
18th – Sunderland – 33 Points
19th – QPR – 27 Points
20th – Burnley – 26 Points
QPR and Burnley are dead in the water – QPR face Man City this Sunday, and pretty much need everyone above to lose three games and for them to win at least 2 from Man City, Newcastle and Leicester. Burnley are in an even more perilous position – they need to win three, gain back a hell of a goal difference and are playing Villa, Stoke and Hull – both could win 2 at a push, but are reliant on others, and with goal differences -22 and -27, the only team catchable in terms of points and GD is Newcastle, who could put themselves out of distance of both with a single point.
I believe that Hull, Sunderland and Newcastle are vying (in a bad way) for 18th spot. Sunderland are 4/6 favourites for it, while Hull are 7/2 and Newcastle are 9/2 due to the favours the fixture gods have sent them. Here are the remaining games for each of those three:
Sunderland: Everton (A), Leicester (H), Arsenal (A), Chelsea (A)
Hull: Burnley (H), Tottenham (A), Man Utd (H)
Newcastle: West Brom (H), QPR (A), West Ham (H)
Newcastle first up – lost 8 in a row, players falling out with the manager (if you can call him that) and the club are in dissaray (when are they not?). When Alan Pardew left for Palace in January, they had just beaten Everton and were pretty much safe. Wins at Hull and Villa since, and add in a few draws – with 11 games to go they were miles clear. But, players were allowed to leave with this in mind – and since then it’s gone horribly wrong. Injuries and suspensions galore – they go into the next game with pretty much one recognised defender (Coloccini) with Williamson/Janmaat suspended, Dummett, S Taylor and Haidara injured. For WBA at least, they look screwed. Come QPR, they might have nothing to play for (the Hoops, that is) so with a few players back, Siem de Jong and Cisse back in – they could realistically get the points needed. Then at West Ham, a team with little to play for – another point could be possible if John Carver can galvanise the players. It may be close, but they should be okay, just!
Sunderland, had they not picked up a crucial win over Southampton – could have been knackered. They have to play Everton, Arsenal and Chelsea away from home, where they have been awful all season. Leicester at home could be the pivotal game – but they are playing oh so well at the moment. Everton, this weekend – is somewhere they could possibly get a draw, but with Arsenal vying for the 2nd spot, the last game vs Chelsea could be the one it rests on. They have always had the wood over Chelsea, and with the Blues already winning the title, they may be off-guard and a point could be possible. Everton are in great form at home, with 4 wins from 5, while Sunderland have drawn 3 and lost 2 of their last 5 away games – so Everton must be/are favourites. Sunderland fans should and are worried, rightfully so. Easily the favourites to go down, for good reason.
Hull picked up a vital win at Liverpool, which without, again would have left them needing a miracle. They have, along with Sunderland – three tricky fixtures. Burnley on Saturday is the pivotal game. If they lose that, they could well be relegated with Tottenham and Man Utd to play. Utd are vying for 4th with Liverpool, while Tottenham are fighting it out for a Europa League spot with Liverpool and Southampton – so neither will be taking it easy. If Hull lose Saturday, they might well be saying goodbye to Premier League football next season.
Leicester face QPR, Sunderland and Southampton – they will pick up at least one win from those three, if not 2. They are fine I think. Newcastle will pick up another point at least against QPR, but probably lose to West Ham and WBA. Sunderland I believe will draw one game, and lose the other three (Leicester or Everton). Hull I think will beat Burnley then lose to Tottenham and Man Utd, leaving them with 37, so I reckon it will end like this:
16th – Hull – 37 Points
17th – Newcastle – 36 Points
18th – Sunderland – 34 Points
Unfortunately it says a great deal about football in the North when the three most Northern teams in the PL are fighting it out at the bottom. Sunderland and Hull are probably expected down there, but Newcastle really shouldn’t be. The problem for two of the three is at boardroom level – Hull and Newcastle have owners who seemingly don’t care, and especially in the case of Newcastle have flown in too many foreigners, who are invisible when the times get tough. The club is in effect a shop window for these players to showcase what they can do to passing London clubs where all the shiny lights are…which is ironic since Magpies like shiny things. The likes of Krul, Coloccini, Tiote, Sissoko, Gouffran and more should be ashamed of themselves, with such shocking performances.
Sunderland on the other hand have been flirting with relegation year after year, and concentrate far too much on the Derby each time it comes around, often getting in a new manager, winning it, then carrying on where they left off. Dick Advocaat was very much a panic appointment, a man with no managerial experience when it comes to a dogfight, and no experience in the Premier League. Ellis Short may well have sold the fans short, and this time it could be terminal. If they go down, I can’t see them returning for a good 3-4 years, at least.